(full paper can be accessed publicly and freely at: download paper)
Fallacies about the nature of biases have shadowed a proper cognitive understanding of biases and their sources, which in turn lead to ways that minimize their impact. Six such fallacies are presented: it is an ethical issue, only applies to “bad apples”, experts are impartial and immune, technology eliminates bias, blind spot, and the illusion of control. Then, eight sources of bias are discussed and conceptualized within three categories: (A) factors that relate to the specific case and analysis, which include the data, reference materials, and contextual information, (B) factors that relate to the specific person doing the analysis, which include past experience base rates, organizational factors, education and training, and personal factors, and lastly, (C) cognitive architecture and human nature that impacts all of us. These factors can impact what the data are (e.g., how data are sampled and collected or what is considered as noise and therefore disregarded), the actual results (e.g., decisions on testing strategies, how analysis is conducted, and when to stop testing), and the conclusions (e.g., interpretation of the results). The paper concludes with specific measures that can minimize these biases.